52 seniors in a congregation of 283 gathered to worship God, pray for our graduates, and thank God for guiding them this far. Baccalaureate is no longer mandatory. Graduates attend of their own free will. With great music, a great speaker, and wonderful participation by the graduates of our community, the 2014 Baccalaureate continued a special tradition. Graduates led in almost every part of the worship service as people of faith came to pray, not only for their graduates, but for other graduates in our community, too.
Our speaker, Ray Herman, did a great job giving an inspirational talk that seemed to be well-received. He spoke to the graduates about the role of paradigms in their lives and gave examples from his own life, marriage and family. Of the eleven years we have hosted this event, this is the first time a Cumberland Presbyterian has been the speaker. We try to be ecumenical.
No one seems to remember when the baccalaureate ceased decades ago, but since 2004, it has been renewed and meaningful.
The Ministerial Alliance presented the Peacemaker Scholarships to Jacqueline Rios Cardenas and Dylan Kinnard. This $250 award to each is a special gift to encourage high-schoolers to practice the words of Jesus, who says, "Blessed are the Peacemakers."
It is awarded to one female and one male graduate each year. Our own Collin Lawrence and Chris Jones have been past recipients. The scholarship committee of MHS selects them for the Ministerial Alliance each year.
The highlight of the evening is a time when each graduate present, comes forward and stands on the music director's step for four seconds after their name is called, while the congregation says an open-eyed, silent prayer for each one. Their names are heard clearly and the silence is conducive to prayer. It is just a wonderful opportunity for a community to ask God's guidance and blessings for these high school graduates.
Samantha Herman played in a "Flute Trio." It was very well-done and was shared at the beginning of the Baccalaureate worship service. This piece was chosen because her trio received a "1", the top grade in the UIL Solo and Ensemble contest in the spring.
The Madrigal Singers (a select group of singers at MHS) were directed by a graduate. They sang, "Hear My Prayer." The MHS Chorale shared their traditional, "Jesus, My Lord, My Life, My All." About 60 voices in this group sounded great. The opening and closing hymns were "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" and "To God Be the Glory" respectively. The choirs were able to sing one last time together which is a great bonus for the year for them. All the music was great.
New this year was the offering of free DVDs and CDs for those who requested them. A special thanks to Mark Hopkin for the taping, editing and duplicating. In addition to our staff participation, Anna Westmoreland was a great usher helping in so many ways, Abby Herman sang in the Chorale, and the Parteeshelped create and arrange the ads for newspaper.
The comments from the parents, grandparents, families, pastors, and graduates were heart-warming. It really is appreciated. It is a great thing that we host each year. Thanks to all who helped in anyway. I hope those of you who have never been will come and experience it in the years ahead.